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8 Rigs headed out to DV late last week to camp and explore. The trip was a great success and we are already planning to return and get into some of the areas we missed this time around.

While there was some minor carnage, the trip went off without any major problems. Crewmaxxis broke an upper rear shock mount but managed to do an adequate field repair in camp sat morning. Nomad lost an upper rear shock bolt but also replaced it in camp. Due to those repairs and a lack of sleep due to the wind storm, our group sat was down to 4 rigs, Myself, TomR, JeniorNV and TokenTaco left camp at 7:30. As we approached Striped Butte we caught up with Eric and his son from Overland Bound and he joined us for the rest of the day. I also shared my camp site with him sat night. The rest of the group went to the other side of the park, after making repairs and ran Titus Canyon and got hit by rain and hail while we had beautiful weather all day.

There were a large amount of rigs lined up for Mengel on both sides when we got there on sat, some pulling trailers, so we ended up waiting about an hour to get through. We had people telling us we wouldn't make it and we easily proved them wrong. There were some folks who refused to lower their air pressure and struggled on street tires to get up the short climb. One guy ripped off a valve stem and scratched his head for about 20 minutes before finally getting out of the way. He was in a stock 4 Runner with street tires, side steps and refused to air down... why his group let him come along was beyond me! Luckily, the guys with trailers stopped at the top and we got around them after waiting for a large group coming the other way to pass.

Some of the long stretches of high speed washboard road on fri took a toll for sure but none of the obstacles we ran turned out to be a problem. Lippincott Road had a few rocks, a couple narrow spots a 1 tippy section and the very top of Mengel Pass had some good sized rocks and 1 tippy squeeze around a boulder but we just rolled right through them all. We had a couple rigs show up that were not suitable for Lippincott Road and they decided to skip it. It turned out to be a good decision because they probably would have gotten some body or under carriage damage. This showed me that my decision to limit this run to only fully armored and prepared rigs with experienced drivers was the right call.

OK.... time for my pictures (and there are a lot of them!). On the way in on wed, I stopped at Trona Pinnacles.
 

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On Thu, I drove over to Zabriske Point and met up with Nomad coming in from Las Vegas. The formations there were super interesting. The last shot is looking east across the hwy.
 

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We drove back to Stovepipe Wells and decided to check out Cottonwood and Marble Canyons. We made it to the closure in Marble and hiked back in about a mile or so to check out the interesting walls of sedimentary rock. Both these canyons were easy drives with really no obstacles, just a few rocks on the trail.
 

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Friday the group headed out for a long day that ended up being 128 miles. We arrived in camp about 6pm.

Heading west, we stopped at Father Crowley Point for a group shot and a look down into a large canyon that stretched back into Panamint Valley where we had spent the night. Then we turned norht and passed through the Joshua Tree forest before connecting with Lippincott Road. We took a break there and got buzzed by 3 F18s before heading up to the Racetrack to check out the moving rocks.
 

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Lippincott Road was narrow with a few washouts and some larger rocks but didn't pose a challenge for our group of 8.
 

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Next stop was The Racetrack where we walked out to check out the moving rocks. When water flows onto the playa and freezes, the wind can slide the rocks over the surface. Depending on the wind direction and shape of the rocks, some slide north and some slide south or even change direction. A formation called The Grandstand sits at the far end of The Racetrack.
 

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Next we headed to Lost Burro Mine. We may have found him though as he was on the side of the trail just before we got to Lippincott Road and liked to pose for pictures!

We stopped at Teakettle Junction before heading down miles of washboard to Ubehebe Crater. This crater was created when rising magma hit the water table and exploded, showering the area with pumice stone. It was super windy here and as we aired up jbums hood blew into his windshield, breaking the stop off the hood rod but not cracking the glass.
 

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Sat was the run south to Badwater and then over to Butte Valley and Mengel Pass.

The morning sun hitting the Panamint Range made for some beautiful scenery. I took these 2 shots as we drove along Badwater Raod. The sign up on the cliff across the road has a line indicating 'Sea Level'.
 

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Our took us to West Side Road and then Warm Springs Canyon Road. After stopping to air down, Tom had his 'Service Engine Soon' light come on. Jen quickly diagnosed it as the charcoal canister before we continued. She reassured him that it would not be an issue as hers has been on for 5 years! The view shot is looking south back towards Badwater and Furnace Creek.

We stopped and checked out the Talc Mine at Warm Springs Camp and looked around the buildings trying not to breathe too hard!
 

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The road into Butte Valley is pretty easy and even has some long straight stretches of sand. Striped Butte is something to see in person as pictures really don't do it justice. The Geologist Cabin is the nicest one in the park to stay in and has a large dining table and chairs and a fireplace. We found a family staying there for the weekend.

Mengel Pass is just past the Geologists Cabin and we took what Tom thought was the bypass to get there. It turned out we were on the harder route and this squeeze around the large boulder slowed us down for a few minutes as we crept past it. Jen made the short, rocky climb look easy as usual.
 

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Goler Wash had a couple sections with rocks embedded in the trail but was relatively easy. After stopping at Barker Ranch we continued through the narrow part of the wash and then back north to Ballarat before jumping back on pavement and heading to camp in Panamint springs.

Overall it was an excellent 1st time in Death Valley for the crew and now we have some good ideas of where to go next time we get out there.
 

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I passed by the Wagon Wheel OHV area on the way to Death Valley. It seemed like a nice place to take break after driving about 5 hours. The surrounding area was covered in green and gold. (Any Packer fans around here?)





Back on the road, Crewmaxxis caught up to me while I was filling up at the Shell gas station in Searles Valley. (Note to self: the Valero station only 5 minutes further down is 10 cents a gallon cheaper.) We would caravan the rest of the way, only stopping to help a couple of guys in an old van with Canadian plates replace a flat tire. They had trouble lifting the axle high enough to get the tire on... hi-lift to the rescue. Done we our good deed for the day, we continued on to our camp for the night at Panamint Springs Resort. It was nice to finally have someone to chat with during the drive.

We got to Panamint Springs resort in less than 2 hours, just in time to take some pictures of the area before the sun went down. Not my kind of campground, but the views were nice.







more to come later... have to run some errands.
 

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Great video Tom! Please post some of your stills here when you can.
 

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Due to those repairs and a lack of sleep due to the wind storm, our group sat was down to 4 rigs, Myself, TomR, JeniorNV and TokenTaco left camp at 7:30.
I got about 2 hours of sleep that night, and I stayed with the main group that left at 7:30. What was the big deal? ;)

Here are my pics...

Day 1 - Joshua Tree forest. Me and my mom (Token Taco) in the second pic:






Saline Valley Road and a real jackass we encountered (see what I did there):








Lippincott Mine Road, which was a bit puckery:






























Racetrack:









 
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